The TaxWatch Research Blog

The TaxWatch Research Blog is a forum where our research staff can address topics and issues in a short format. Keep an eye on this space during Legislative Session for frequent posts making sense of the activity at the Capitol. 

Florida's FY2022-23 State Budget

Florida TaxWatch is pleased to present taxpayers with a guide to the FY2022-23 state budget, which went into effect July 1, 2022. The report includes all appropriations for the new fiscal year— the General Appropriations Act (GAA), “back-of-bill” spending, and general bills—net of the Governor’s vetoes.

2022 Budget Turkey Watch

An analysis of the transparency and accountability of the budget process

/ Categories: Research, Budget Turkeys, Budget/Approps

The $112.1 billion budget passed by the Florida Legislature for FY2022-23 contains 166 appropriations items worth $281.0 million qualifying as Budget Turkeys. These are only a portion of the record-setting more than 1,200 member projects in the new budget worth $2.8 billion. In addition, the Legislature created a new program to allow members to request at least $80 million in additional local projects from the federal State Fiscal Recovery Fund.

2022 Florida Legislative Session Wrap-Up

The 2022 legislative session is over, even if it ran a little long. Florida TaxWatch and the state’s taxpayers had a number of successes. Many bills and budget issues supported by our research and recommendations passed. Our research and input that raised concerns with legislation, helped to improve them or fail passage, including changes to the tax audit system and a very costly approach to improving data privacy

HOUSE AND SENATE BUDGET PROPOSALS ARE $3.3 BILLION APART

There are Plenty of Issues to Negotiate

/ Categories: Research, Budget/Approps

The House and Senate have passed their respective budgets and now must hold budget conference meetings to hammer out the differences. An agreement must be reached on every number and every word in the 400-plus page appropriations bill. Budget negotiations are never easy and this year will be no exception, even with so much money available.

New General Revenue Estimates Add Another $4.0 Billion to Amount Available for the Next Budget

/ Categories: Research, Budget/Approps

With state coffers already swelling, the General Revenue Estimating Conference (REC) met on January 21, 2022, to develop the state’s new forecast for general revenue (GR) collections. This is the revenue estimate that the 2022 Legislature will use for the new FY2022-23 state budget. The REC increased its estimate for GR collections by $3.3 billion in the current year (FY2021-22) and by $704 million in FY 2022-23. This means lawmakers have another $4 billion available to spend. Florida was already in its best fiscal shape in history.

We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to invest in Florida’s future

Here is what Florida TaxWatch thinks the Legislature should do.

/ Categories: Budget/Approps, Economic Development, Taxpayer Guide, In the News

The 2022 legislative session begins today and, despite the pandemic, Florida is in an enviable fiscal position. The state’s current budget is record in size, as are our budget reserves. Revenue collections are back above pre-pandemic levels, and this Legislature will have even more money available for the next budget cycle, made possible by both strong economic performance and billions in unappropriated federal funds.

THE GOVERNOR’S FY 2022-23 BUDGET RECOMMENDATIONS

With Flush State Coffers, the Governor’s Budget Would Make Significant Investments While Leaving Billions in the Bank

/ Categories: Research, Budget/Approps

As the Florida TaxWatch Budget Watch series1 has been detailing, the budget outlook for the state is extremely rosy. Governor DeSantis’s 2022-23 budget recommendations reflect the current fiscal environment. It totals $99.7 billion and just like the current budget, the price tag does not fully account for all the spending it contains.

Florida Will Receive Billions From The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, But Is It The State’s Fair Share?

/ Categories: Research, Taxes, Budget/Approps, Transportation

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA),1 signed by President Biden on November 15, 2021, will make a significant investment in the nation’s transportation system and other infrastructure. Billions of dollars will be distributed to the states for a wide range of projects, including all modes of transportation, broadband, cyber security, water infrastructure, energy, climate change, resiliency, and pollution mitigation. Florida will get a sizable chunk of these funds.

Budget Watch - FLORIDA GENERAL REVENUE COLLECTIONS HAVE OUTPACED ESTIMATES FOR 14 CONSECUTIVE MONTHS

/ Categories: Research, Budget/Approps

The Florida TaxWatch Budget Watch series has been detailing the rapid recovery of the state government’s revenue collections from the initial precipitous drop in the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic. We have highlighted how current General Revenue (GR) estimates are back above the last pre-pandemic estimates. Coupled with billions of dollars in federal aid, Florida is in enviable fiscal shape as the Legislature heads into the 2022 Regular Session.

Navigating Federal Pandemic Relief: Following billions in stimulus dollars, where do we go from here?

/ Categories: Research, COVID Recovery, Budget/Approps

The massive amount of federal funding provided in the six stimulus acts provides an unprecedented opportunity to improve Florida and fund programs and infrastructure that have had long-standing backlogs with few past feasible opportunities to address to this degree.

Budget Watch - What a Difference a Year Makes

2022 Legislature Heads into Session with a $7 Billion Budget Surplus

/ Categories: Research, Budget/Approps, Taxpayer Guide

Last year, COVID-19’s arrival in Florida and the attendant economic shutdown had state forecasters—and virtually everyone else--predicting gloomy fiscal times for Florida. The 2020 legislative Long-Range Financial Outlook estimated that the 2021 Legislature would be facing a budget shortfall of $2.7 billion, and without significant spending cuts, the shortfalls would continue for at least two more years.

2021 Budget Turkey Watch Report

An analysis of the transparency and accountability of the budget process

/ Categories: Research, Budget Turkeys, Budget/Approps, Taxpayer Guide

The 2021 Budget turkey Watch report: an analysis of the transparency and accountability of the Budget processis the result of an annual independent review of Florida’s FY2021-22 budget by Florida TaxWatch. Budget Turkeys are items, usually local member projects, placed in individual line-items or accompanying proviso language that are added to the final appropriations bill without being fully scrutinized and subjected to the budget process.

THE GOVERNOR’S FY2021-22 BUDGET RECOMMENDATIONS

Federal Funds Would Lead to Record Spending

/ Categories: Research, Budget/Approps

Despite the negative revenue impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Legislature’s early talk of shortfalls and budget cuts, Governor Ron DeSantis has released a proposed budget for FY2021- 22 that totals $96.578 billion, a $4.308 billion (4.7 percent) increase over current year spending.

Budget Watch - Finally, Some Good Budget News

New General Revenue Estimates Add $2.1 Billion to Expected Collections

/ Categories: Research, Budget/Approps

The General Revenue Estimating Conference (GREC) met on December 18 and 21 and increased Florida’s general revenue (GR) projections by $1.486 billion in the current budget year and $623 million in FY2021-22.1 This restores 39 percent of the $5.4 billion two-year reduction in the estimates adopted by the GREC last August. 

Budget Watch - Florida is Facing Large Budget Shortfalls

/ Categories: Research, Budget/Approps

The severe economic contraction brought on by COVID-19 has reduced state revenues significantly. The pandemic is also increasing government costs such as virus response/recovery and assistance to those harmed economically by the public health emergency. This spells trouble for the current and future state budgets.

General Revenue Estimates for the Current Budget Year Reduced by $3.4 Billion

/ Categories: Research, Budget/Approps

After 128 months of economic expansion through February 2020, the global coronavirus pandemic brought on the largest post-war contraction in U.S. history. With the resulting closure or slowdown of businesses, record unemployment, and a loss of tourism, Florida’s economy is suffering. The impact on government revenue has been and will continue to be profound. The General Revenue Estimating Conference met on August 14 and reduced the revenue projections by $3.420 billion in the current budget year and $1.994 billion in FY2021-22. This follows news that actual collections in FY2019-20 fell $1.9 billion short of the estimate. 

Budget Watch - COVID-19 Impact

/ Categories: Research, Taxes, Budget/Approps

As Florida continues its battle with the COVID-19 pandemic, the state has released General Revenue (GR) collections data for June (the last month of the FY19-20 fiscal year).1 Collections came in $427.8 million (13.4 percent) below estimate, following losses of $878.1 million (29.4 percent) in April and $779.6 million (26.4) percent in May. Because collections were running a bit above estimate before the pandemic hit, the $2.1 billion loss in the last quarter puts Florida down $1.9 billion (5.7 percent) for the year. 

2020 Taxpayers Guide to the FY2020-21 Florida State Budget

/ Categories: Research, Budget/Approps, Taxpayer Guide

After deducting the Governor’s vetoes, the net result is FY2020-21 appropriations totaling $92.270 billion, still a $1.3 billion increase over the previous year. As is usually the case, it is the largest state budget in history. In addition to many facts and figures explaining this year’s budget, past data are also provided to put it in historical context. We hope this annual budget pocket guide gives you the information you need to better understand where and how your hard-earned tax dollars are being spent.

Budget Watch - General Revenue $1.455 Billion Below Estimate

/ Categories: Research, Budget/Approps

General Revenue (GR) collections for the month of May came in $779.6 million (26.4 percent) below estimate. This news comes from the new Monthly Revenue Report, just released by the Office of Economic and Demographic Research.1 It is somewhat surprising that the amount by which May GR collections fell short of the previous estimates is less than that of April ($878.1 million). May collections largely reflect sales activity in April, a month that was almost entirely under the statewide ‘Safer at Home’ order.

Bringing Florida's Budget Back From COVID-19

A Roadmap for a Responsible Recovery

/ Categories: Research, Budget/Approps, Cost Savings

As the nation recovers from one of the worst economic recessions in history, Florida continues to battle unprecedented fiscal challenges and budget shortfalls that have made business-as-usual in state government unsustainable. In response to this crisis, this report presents immediately actionable ideas in the event that a significant budget deficit occurs in FY2020-21.

2020 Budget Turkey Watch Report

An analysis of the transparency and accountability of the budget process

/ Categories: Research, Budget Turkeys, Budget/Approps

The report promotes additional oversight and integrity in the state’s budgeting process based on the principle that: because money appropriated by the Legislature belongs to the taxpayers of Florida, the process must be transparent and accountable, and every appropriation should receive deliberation and public debate. The budget review identifies appropriations that circumvent transparency and accountability standards in public budgeting. 

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